“How can you do this everyday?” asked 94-year-old Mr. S. “Isn’t it hard to be surrounded by so much sadness all the time?” A question I get asked quite often in this industry, I took a second to think of my response.
His wife had just passed away, and we were arranging her funeral services.
“I think it’s knowing that I bring a little guiding light into people’s lives at their darkest times, ” I responded.
He looked at me and smiled.
Mr. S, or Dr. S as I should call him, because he was a retired neurologist, was one of the sweetest men I had ever had the pleasure of helping.
He came from a different time, where men got up when women left the table, and took their hats off when speaking to you. He did all of these things for me while arranging for his wife’s funeral. A gesture I was not used to.
I respected that. He struggled to get up, but it didn’t stop him from rising whenever I left the room.
The day of his wife’s services, I took him to the front of the chapel to spend some alone time with her. With the curtains closed behind us, and me standing guard to ensure that no one intruded, he began to speak to his wife.
“Patty, I just wanted to say thank you for saying yes when I asked you to marry me.”
Then Dr. S turned towards me.
“We chose the outfit that she’s wearing together, and the one that I am wearing. We were supposed to wear them for a different occasion. They were her favorites.”
My heart hurt for him. They had been married over 70 years. He turned back to his wife.
“I thank God everyday for sending you to me. You are, and always will be the best thing that ever happened to me. Just wait for me, I will see you soon my love.”
Then he kissed her for the last time.
I felt the tears well up in my eyes.
He turned to me again.
“Thank you so much for all of your help. Patty would have loved you.”
I took his hand.
“You’re more than welcome Dr. S.” I said back to him.
And I thought to myself “and THIS is why I do this everyday.”
–Alexis Hart is a mortuary science student, death positive advocate and local mortuary employee. You can keep up with her on instagram at @lex_hart